Mr. Zuta and the Apple Tree
Written by: Orit Raz
Illustrated by: Ora Ayal
Mr. Zuta did not take care of the apple tree growing in his garden, and, in the absence of such efforts on his part, the tree wilted, and its fruit turned sour. The decision to plant flower and vegetable patches around the tree, and the associated perseverance and dedication required, bore surprising fruit, delighting both Mr. Zuta and his friends.
"To work at it and safeguard it" (Genesis 2:15)
Jewish tradition attributes great importance to agriculture and land, the work associated with it, and the safeguarding of it. The first to have been charged with this important task was Adam. Back in the Garden of Eden, he was instructed "to work at it and safeguard it" – charging him with the responsibility to take care of the world around him, and cultivate it.
Mr. Zuta and his friends, the dwarves, work their land, and cultivate it joyfully. All of us, at all ages, can also take care of the world we have been given, and look after our surroundings.
Enjoy reading and discussing this book!
Proposed Family Activities:
Sitting close and reading together – You may want to look for the illustration of the wilted tree, stop reading, and ask your child for their opinion as to why the tree is not blooming, and what it is missing. At the end of the story, you may want to discuss what caused the tree to bloom once again, and whether that was Mr. Zuta's intention when he planted the flower patches.
Do trees have feelings? Perhaps you would enjoy looking for the page on which Mr. Zuta's friends suggest that he get rid of the tree. You could imagine a dialogue taking place. If the tree could speak, what would it say to Mr. Zuta and his friends?
I want a garden too! – Mr. Zuta is jealous of his friends' gardens. You may want to share a memory with your child of having wanted something that another person had. How did you feel? What did you do? If you would like to have a garden too, you could plant flowers, herbs, or vegetables in your yard or window-box. Look after your plants, and watch them grow.
Planting a community garden together – You may want to take a walk in the area surrounding your home. Are there any open spaces, or abandoned courtyards? You could clean up the area together with some friends, and make it more beautiful. You could even plant a community garden in collaboration with your neighbors.
Right under one's nose – Mr. Zuta did not notice the change in his apple tree until his friends remarked on it. Have you ever failed to notice something good that was happening around you? You may enjoy walking through your house and backyard, looking for all the beautiful things that have grown or changed there lately.
A recipe for apple crumble
For the crumbs:
100g of sugar
80g of butter, cubed
100g of flour
For the apples:
20g of butter
3 tablespoons of sugar (you could add a tablespoon of cinnamon or lemon juice, depending on your preference).
- Mix the sugar, butter, and flour together until you get medium-sized crumbs. Store in fridge for one hour.
- Peel the apples, and cut them into wedges.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan, and cook the apples in it for 10–15 minutes while stirring, until the apples are soft, but retain their shape.
- Place the apples in a baking pan, sprinkle the crumbs on top, and bake in medium–high heat for approximately 20 minutes, until golden.
- Serve hot or at room temperature. Bon Appetit!